bit-tech.net

This brain doesn't stop here anymore

Those of you who are technically literate will, if you have not already, come to realise that you are the chief PC repair person for your family. The moment families realise that you have any idea how to remove viruses, upgrade components or ‘obtain’ software, you’re the one in the frame. The amount of family PC’s which have passed through my hands (several times I might add) is huge.

And of course it’s not limited to family; it’s friends of the family, my friends, friends of their friends and second cousins of the guy who serves my friends uncle in Pizza Hut. As soon as you have become the ‘Computer Guy’ (or girl) in your little social circle, you are doomed to be the digital messiah.

"As soon as you become the ‘Computer Guy’ (or girl) in your little social circle, you are doomed to be the digital messiah."

Not that this especially bothers me, I enjoy fixing computers and I have quite a sense of achievement when I hand back a working PC which had been handed to me as a virus-ridden, dust coated mess. Do we stop at just fixing PC’s? No, we’re also the port of call when someone is buying new and you know you’ll get asked your opinion, or hopefully handed the cash and asked to ‘sort it out for them’. The benefit of this of course is that you can stop people from buying equipment from shops which you would rather they didn’t, because we all know the chill which runs up our spines when people explain where they’ve just bought their new rig from. Not least because you know they’re being ripped off, but also because these things are pigs to support and they were no doubt coerced into picking up the extended warranty, which means you have to behave yourself poking about in there, lest you void it.

So, you’re the man of the moment. Top guy, head honcho. You’re computer literate like a mother and proud of it. People call, you go ‘”Yeah, just defrag your hard disk, get ad-aware on there, install AVG, clear your Internet cache out and don’t install SP2, you’re good to go” sounding as self-important as you’ve been led to believe. In fact, you wonder what it is with people, why can’t they understand this stuff, it’s easy, basic hardware/software configuration which is well documented and there is plenty of additional information available on the Internet. It’s a doddle… isn’t it?

Then, like the sands of time slipping through an hourglass, one day something goes over your head. One day you’re flipping through a magazine reading about the latest new product coming your way and you realise, “I didn’t know about that”. One day, you become what your friends and family are.

This occurred to me whilst idling in the bit-tech IRC channel (#bit-tech), I was watching a conversation about graphics cards. I’m techie, I’ve been known to understand my FSB’s from my MHz, but I was watching this conversation scroll up regarding something as mundane as graphics accelerators and realised I didn’t understand a single word of it. What was even scarier was that I didn’t even understand the model numbers they were referring to! I read a whole conversation and at the end I was still no clearer as to what graphics card I should be upgrading to.

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Chris Caines


Then the realisation hit me that this was only going to get worse, the ongoing saga of my Real Life™ was about to start overtaking the amount of time I have to keep myself abreast of the latest computing technology. Already I had found myself taking the ‘easy option’ in regards to cooling and hardware, I stopped being elitist and just became complacent that I had all the time in the world to research what I would need next to upgrade my PC. However, when the time comes will I need PCI-Express, DDR2, 64-Bit? I’m going to have to ask someone what my options are when I want to replace a part of my computer and in one simple move; I’ve become one of the people who come to me with the same questions.

"One day you’re flipping through a magazine reading about the latest new product coming your way and you realise, "I didn’t know about that"."

I’ve noticed it’s getting harder and harder to maintain a technical conversation with people more on the ball than me. Regularly now I will have to stop them to clue me up on the specifics of the subject or if it’s online I’ll take a quick breather to bone up on whatever they’ve just brought up. That’s all very well for making sure you don’t look stupid in the middle of a conversation, however it’s not going to teach you to make an informed decision on what you should spend your next £300 on. Whatever I do, unless I ask someone what they think, I’ll be buying blind - and that’s a terrifying thought.

The day will come when younger members of my family will soon begin to take the throne of computing greatness and will be telling me things about technology I couldn’t even hope to understand. The final nail in the coffin will be eighteen years from now, when my children are as frustrated as I was with my parents as to why I don’t grasp the simple concept of home computing. They say all people turn into their parents. Kna’s law dictates that that is especially true when it comes to technological ignorance - and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Now, how do I save this document again?